7:15pm PT by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
'The Voice': New Coaches Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys Continue to Impress
The Blind Auditions continued on The Voice Tuesday night, with new coaches Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys coming off a great first night of landing artists. Adam Levine and Blake Shelton started the night ready to prove themselves as veterans, but so far, it looks like season 11 belongs to the new coaches on the block.
The first artist of the night was 28-year-old Sa’Rayah, singing Aretha Franklin’s “Down in My Own Tears.” She brought a lot of emotion and vocal complexity to her audition. Miley and Alicia both turned, and even though they both really wanted her on their team, they remained supportive about each other, determined to embody a stark contrast to the negative dynamic between Levine and Shelton. “I know that I’m not an obvious choice,” Cyrus admitted. “I’m just having a hard time right now,” Sa’Rayah said, confessing that she loves both artists. But she joined Team Miley, saying that Cyrus is out-of-the-box like she is.
Ethan Tucker, who started writing songs when he was 16, brought his biggest fan to his Blind Audition: his grandmother. He sang “Roxanne” and brought a bit of reggae to the classic. Going into the audition, he acknowledged that it’s important to put your own spin on covers, and he did just that. For a second, it looked like he was going to inexplicably not turn any chairs, but Levine turned at the last second. Then, Shelton of course had to enter the fray. “That last note showed me it wasn’t just a gimmick,” Levine said of Tucker’s genre changes to the song. “You’re going to bring an element that I think we need,” Shelton said. Tucker surprised by joining Team Blake. Non-country artists never last that long on Team Blake, though.
Next up was Katie Colosimo, who has a day job at a luxury daycare for dogs and cats, but she said she has wanted to be a professional performer for her entire life. “To work with any of the coaches, it just would be a really big honor,” she said, heading into her audition. She sang “Stone Cold” by Demi Lovato, and it just wasn’t quite enough to turn any chairs. “It’s crazy how good everyone has to be to make it onto this show,” Levine said, adding that she was almost too emotional during her singing. Cyrus countered that she loved the emotion but noted some pitch issues. It’s early in the competition, but the coaches have to be selective.
Wé McDonald next explained that she felt like a loner in her early teen years but used music as an outlet to overcome. “This show doesn’t judge you on your looks; it judges you on the voice that you have,” McDonald said in a strong reminder of the significance behind the entire premise of the series. She sang “Feeling Good,” and her voice was immediately striking — significantly lower than her speaking voice. Her voice filled the room, and she got the first four-chair turn of the night. She was without a doubt the best surprise of the season so far. “I would do anything to be your coach,” Shelton said. Levine stressed that, at 17 years old, there are still things she has to learn and that he can be the one to teach her. “You came to this show to meet me,” Keys said. “I’m not playing. I’m not joking. I’m so serious,” she added. It worked. McDonald joined Team Alicia.
Former special-ed teacher Andrew DeMuro recently left the classroom to pursue a music career. He sings in a folk band called The Shades. For his audition he sang “Vienna,” adding that Billy Joel embodies the kind of artist that he wants to be. Levine and Shelton both turned for one of their signature face-offs. Levine and Shelton mostly just fought with each other instead of selling themselves as good coaches. DeMuro went with Team Adam.
Billy Gilman, who started vocally training when he was 7 years old and got a record deal when he was 10, was dropped from Sony in his early teens after his voice changed. As he began trying to figure out who he was as an artist, he also went through a personal journey as he realized he was gay. “There’s only one shot to reinvent myself,” he said, hoping that a chance on The Voice would be just that. He sang “When We Were Young” and expressed going into his audition that he would like to work with Cyrus. Levine turned first, followed by Cyrus. Shelton and Keys joined at the last minute, and Gilman landed the second four-chair turn of the night. Shelton and Cyrus both said that they remembered Gilman from his early years of success. Levine pointed out that he turned first. He joined Team Adam, even though Team Miley probably would have been the stronger choice.
Gilman was followed by Nathalie Vincent, who used music to get through some really dark times for her family. Dedicating the song to her late sister Chelsea, Vincent sang “Hold Back the River,” but she didn’t turn any chairs. Levine and Cyrus ran up to the stage to give a very emotional Vincent a big hug, encouraging her to come back and audition again. Hopefully we haven’t seen the last of Vincent, because she showed a lot of potential but just couldn’t quite overcome nerves. “I’m proud of myself,” Vincent said.
Burlesque performer and host Sophia Urista was up next, singing a rocking rendition of “Come Together.” Keys and Cyrus both turned for her powerful voice. “When I heard this voice, I heard Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, combined into one body,” Keys said. “You sounded like a rock 'n' roll Dolly Parton to me,” Cyrus said. Then, she really played the “Dolly card,” cueing a prerecorded video of Parton advocating for Cyrus, her goddaughter. The strategy worked, and Urista joined Team Miley.
Brendan Fletcher, a bartender and aspiring musician who has been in a dozen bands in his life, recently decided to pursue a career as a solo artist. “The Voice is the only show that could change my life,” he said. He sang “Jolene” by Ray LaMontagne, showing off a rich tone and strong stage presence. Levine turned first, shortly followed by Keys. Cyrus joined near the end. “I think you’re radical,” Cyrus said. Keys tried to lean on her shared New York connection with Fletcher. “This voice can be The Voice,” Levine said. “I just want to thank you all so much,” Fletcher said, struggling to decide before finally joining Team Adam. It was a predictable decision.
The oldest artist of the season, 56-year-old Dan Shafer, auditioned next. With a past in composing jingles, Shafer is now in a group that does mostly covers, but he wants to launch a solo career. He sang “Marry Me” and sounded especially good on the high notes. Shelton was the only coach who turned, so Shafer joined Team Blake by default. “This is why I love this show,” Shelton said, clearly surprised by Shafer’s age.
Lauren Diaz gives private vocal lessons and came to The Voice excited to meet her music hero Alicia Keys. Even though she had some musical success in the past, she never quite made it to the point of landing a record deal. “I feel like this is my last chance to fulfill my dream,” Diaz said. Living up to her claims that she’s a die-hard Keys fan, Diaz sang “If I Ain’t Got You.” She caught the ear of her idol, and Keys turned before she even hit the chorus. Cyrus jumped in, too. And then Shelton joined at the last minute. Diaz was moved to tears. “Your voice is undeniable,” Cyrus said, adding that it was fearless of her to sing one of the coach’s songs. Keys then serenaded Diaz with her own song, singing “I Ain’t Got You” directly to her. It seemed certain that Diaz would choose Team Alicia. How could she not? And sure enough, she became another strong artist on the already formidable Team Alicia. To top things off, Diaz's boyfriend proposed to her after the audition.
The lengthy Blind Auditions process picks up again next week on NBC. Which team stands out to you so far? Sound off in the comments, below.